The Vagrant (1992) / Horror-Comedy

MPAA Rated: R for violence, gore and language   
Running Time: 91 min.

Cast: Bill Paxton, Marshall Bell, Michael Ironside, Mitzi Kapture, Colleen Camp, Patrika Darbo
Director:  Chris Walas
Screenplay: Richard Jefferies

Review published February 25, 2003

The Vagrant is another of those "suburban nightmare" flicks that came out in the 80s, only a few years too late.  Had it come sooner, it might have found a modest audience for those who enjoyed Poltergeist, The Burbs, House, or Beetlejuice, although not nearly as good as those films.  However, by 1992, all of the gold had been stripped from the mine from which The Vagrant so clearly excavates, all we are left with is a mish-mash of the same old paranoia flicks we've already been saturated with to the point of boredom.

Bill Paxton (One False Move, Predator 2) stars as Graham Krakowski, a mild-mannered yuppie accountant who feels so good about his future with his current company, he buys a house he can barely afford, thinking he's destined to get a promotion soon anyway.  He finds a bit of a fixer-upper, but a good deal for Graham, so he seals the deal and moves in.  Shortly after, he is mortified to find that a local vagrant (Bell, Dick Tracy) seems to have full reign of the house, showing up at weird hours of the evening and making a mess and pest of himself.  Graham decides to set up a high security system to keep the vagrant out, but he seems unperturbed and unwilling to go away. 

It isn't really a scary film, playing everything mostly for campy laughs, and for the first third, The Vagrant isn't very good, but it's amiable enough to endure.  However, the film begins to slip considerably once it begins to delve deeper into the slasher movie bag, and what was once a harmless b-movie spoof descends into just being a tastelessly gory, and quite bad, black comedy. 

Another main problem with The Vagrant is that there isn't enough in terms of twists or turns.  The only conflict within the film is whether the vagrant is the killer or whether it's the sleepwalking Graham, but by the time you find out the real deal (although it's unlikely you'll make it that far), you probably won't care either way. 

The Vagrant will find a receptive audience for the b-movie drive-in horror film crowd, but no one else.  If films were ranked comparatively to how people are labeled within society, the title is quite appropriate.  It's far better to give a dollar to a real vagrant than spending it on this crapola.

Qwipster's rating:

2003 Vince Leo